The government has ordered all organisations to activate their business continuity plan (BCP), which includes retaining only essential staff on site while allowing remaining staff to work-from-home, as local community transmissions of COVID-19 continue to climb.
Second Minister of Finance and Economy and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said at the COVID-19 press conference on August 10 that the BCP activation applies to both the private and public sector.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) identified seven essential sectors on August 9 where staff can continue to work, including frontliners, public utilities, and oil and gas.
Organisations with essential activities that do no fall specifically into these sectors can continue to operate provided they activate their BCP.
Staff and organisations that must cease physical operations fall under MoH’s closure list announced on August 7 which include entertainment, recreational, personal care, and learning facilities.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin and MoH Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said a BCP must show action in at least reducing staff and/or segregating them safely on site.
A BCP is an organization’s strategy to remain capable of safely delivering its targeted products and services following a disruptive situation.
The Second Minister of MOFE said alternative working arrangements as part of an effective BCP include reducing total workforce on site, segregating on site staff into separate locations, and dividing staff into rotating teams on site.
“As an example, an organisation that has a hundred employees identifies 20 employees as essential to work on site, while the remaining 80 can work remotely from home. The 20 staff in office can further be divided into two groups stationed at two separate locations,” he said.
By separating employees into teams, the organisation would also be able to continue delivering should one group record an outbreak or be required to quarantine.
The government has not defined the ratio of on site and remote staff to give organisations the flexibility to meet their specific needs. However organisations that make no attempt to reduce on site staff or activate their BCP will be liable to penalities.
“For example an accountancy firm, where you think you can work from home; if we find out 100% of you are still working in office then under the Infectious Disease Act we can compound you,” said the MOH minister.
“You must be able to show you have BCP of some sort; every organisation must show their effort in doing BCP and reducing the number of people leaving home. We don’t want to be overly dictatorial. We want you to use your common sense, so we can reduce this community spread.”
The ministers also encouraged employers to consider allowing pregnant women as well as their husbands to work from home, as expecting women are at a high-risk of developing serious health complications from COVID-19.
The MoH minister also encouraged the public or employees to report complaints to their 148 hotline.
At the press conference yesterday YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin acknowledged that the current spike of cases – a record high 54 – has created a “very volatile” situation that may necessitate revised BCP requirements and further nationwide restrictions.